New home sales rise despite higher rates
Americans responded to higher mortgage rates by snapping up new homes in February at the fastest pace since July.
New-home sales rose 6.1 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That sales pace is nearly 13 percent higher than February of last year, a positive sign for the housing market that demand is robust at the start of the spring home-buying season.
Healthy job growth and a recovering economy have pushed up interest in new homes, while the prospect of rising mortgage rates since the November presidential election may have pulled some sales forward.
Long-term mortgages drop to 4.23 percent
Long-term U.S. mortgage rates slid this week from their highest levels of 2017.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate home loans fell to 4.23 percent from 4.30 percent last week. The benchmark rate stood at 3.71 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, lowest in records dating to 1971.
The rate on 15-year mortgages tumbled to 3.44 percent from 3.50 percent.
Last week's rates were the highest of 2017.
Ford reduces forecast due to lower sales
Ford Motor Co. says its first-quarter earnings will be about 50 percent lower than last year because of increasing costs and lower sales.
In a call with investors, the company said it expects to earn between 30 and 35 cents per share in the first quarter. That's down from 68 cents a year ago.
The forecast fell short of analysts' expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet had forecast earnings of 47 cents per share.
Ford's shares fell 1 percent to $11.64 in morning trading.
Ford will release its full first-quarter earnings next month.
Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said lower sales and increased costs of engineering electric and self-driving vehicles will impact earnings in the first quarter.
Ford expects to earn $9 billion in 2017, down from $10.4 billion in 2016.